Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 23, 2009

From: Rockwall, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for Rockwall, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dallas area privacy screen recommendations. I have about 125ft of wrought iron fence between my yard and the neighbor's and a drainage pipe that runs along the fence. The neighbor's property sits up about 2-3 ft higher than mine; the fence is 5 ft tall. I want a privacy screen of at least 6 ft tall or higher, fast growing, keep its leaves all year long, and not take up much of my yard (width-wise). All nurseries recommend ligustrum but it will take up too much of the yard. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

First, let us reinforce your reluctance to go with ligustrum. Both Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet) and Ligustrum japonica are native to Asia.  They can get very big and somewhat overwhelming, are considered invasive in southeast Texas, can form thickets, crowd out more desirable plants and are difficult to remove. Not only that, they have flowers with a rather unpleasant odor and produce  abundant pollen to add to allergy woes. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10, and every once in a while, a really cold spell hits the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and knocks down ligustrum all over the place.

There are native alternatives for your privacy screen. We don't necessarily recommend very fast-growing plants, because they tend to break down easily and are short-lived. And the fact that a plant is "evergreen" does not mean it never drops leaves. Leaves drop and are replaced over the course of the year, just not all at once. It seems we keep recommending the same two or three shrubs in these frequent requests we get for "privacy screen" plants. The problem is that not a great many woody plants are evergreen, and the few trees that are, including live oaks and conifers, get a whole lot wider than what you have in mind. So, here once more are our "privacy screen stars:"

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen, 12 to 25 ft., more common in southeast Texas, but adaptable. Takes pruning very well to maintain desired height and width. Sun, part shade.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - Evergreen, 6 to 12 ft., fragrant foliage. Looser, lighter form, can be pruned into tree or shrub. Sun, part shade.


Ilex vomitoria

 


Ilex vomitoria

 


Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera
 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Evergreen screen for Michigan
June 15, 2009 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I need help. Can you please suggest some (preferably evergreen) shrubs and trees that will thrive in our backyard that will provide us some privacy from our neighbors (about ...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for Privacy Fence in Hawaii
July 06, 2016 - I live in Hawaii and need to create some privacy along a wall of my house. The septic drain field is 5' away and I am looking for 6'-8' shrubs that have shallow roots. Would something like cordyline f...
view the full question and answer

Thoughts on non-native Italian Cypress in Austin
January 01, 2014 - I would like to know your thoughts on growing Italian Cypress trees in Austin Texas? We are looking to create a privacy screen(and prepared to pay more for mature trees to cut down the wait to grow...
view the full question and answer

Native Texas shrub for privacy screen in hot area
August 31, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a lot facing dead west which I'm sure you can understand is brutally hot in the summer. I'm putting in a pool in my backyard and would like to plant a native Texas...
view the full question and answer

Looking for tree to absorb sound from neighbor's pool
August 09, 2012 - Our neighbors have put in a new pool with a harmonic pitch sound which resonates in my home. We have tried rubber mats and foam on the fence. Nothing is working. My pool guy suggested trees as the ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.